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The new Disability Access program at WDW and the MSEP

A couple of weeks ago I had emailed the good folks at Walt Disney World with a bit of a query.  On our last trip, in spite of the fact that members of our group have several disabilities, we avoided using the Access program.  I believe one should do what they can to avoid any misuse of equal access programs, and while we certainly qualified to use it, if we could do without, it’s what I’d prefer.  I don’t want my daughter or much younger sister growing up thinking they deserve special privileges simply because they face different challenges than others.  And with the old program, anyone with an access card skips to the front of the line – which is clearly not about equality but about special privileges (which is why it was so abused).  Anyway…

I had emailed the people at WDW to ask about seating for the Main Street Electrical Parade.  This was one time when I desperately wished we had requested assistance on our last trip.  The wait resulted in a lot of anxiety for two members of our party, a melt down for one, and a whole lot of pain for two.  Sitting on the concrete for over an hour trying to hold a spot was not good for any of us.  I was hoping there would be some kind of reserved seating available.  Turns out not… they only have special seating for those guests who are non-ambulatory.  She did give me some tips for the parade though, so hopefully that will help.  Because in spite of the pain (both physical and mental) the MSEP remains on our must do list.

So while that wasn’t great news, she did fill me on on the NEW Disability Access program at Disney World – and that is something I’m excited about.  She encouraged me to participate on our upcoming trip, because the new program addresses the concerns I had with the old program.  Now, instead of ushering people to the front of the line, offering special privileges and inviting misuse, it now works more like the old Fast Passes.

Individuals with special needs request a special card, and instead of hoping into line, get it stamped at the entry to the queue.  It is stamped with the time they are to return, so they are waiting for the same amount of time as everyone else in the line.  But instead of having to stand there (and cause anxiety or pain flare-ups or what-have-you) they can then go sit down, eat, run in circles, meditate, draw, go pee… whatever they need to do to mitigate their symptoms, returning for the time on their card.  At which point they rejoin the queue at the place they would have been standing when their card was stamped.  Now, that doesn’t mean they won’t have to stand in line at all, but it does reduce the time in the line without removing the wait.

I love this new accessibility program.  It ensures those with special needs are able to have equal access to the rides, shows, character meetings, etc without granting an advantage and inviting misuse or program abuse.  And I do think this is a much better idea, and is a change I’m looking forward to experiencing.  Granted it doesn’t help with the MSEP, but hopefully by lessening the stress throughout the day (both physically and emotionally) it will be a little easier too…  because it really cannot be missed!  😉

Happy Birthday Marie!

Today is Marie’s birthday.  She’s 28, which blows my mind more than a little.  I still remember that little girl who joined our family over two decades ago…  who would play under the pool table, so unsure of herself and her new family.  That girl who grew to be the center of my world for a very long time…  whom I would make time to sing with every time I visited home after I moved out.  Her favourite song for a while was “There’s a big green monster under my bed”.  She’d giggle like mad as I did all the actions, and then we’d have to do it all again.  I remember her singing at my wedding…  I was fine all during the ceremony, the toasts, the reception, but her singing “You are my sunshine” had me fighting back the tears.  Then we had Lily-Ann, and there really was no choice at all.  It was a no brainer.  Lily-Ann is Lily-Ann Marie.  And oh those two get on each others nerves at times.  LOL  But it definitely gets better as the kid gets a little older, and can understand how special Marie is.

So…  anyway…  Today is Marie’s birthday.  And here we are singing the happy birthday song as my sister Riki carries in the cake:

One of Marie’s favourite jokes, and it’s one that is all her own, is to say your name repeatedly…  wait for you to give her your undivided attention, and for the room to go quiet, then both say and sign “flashlight”.  So, without fail, someone always gives her a flashlight for her birthday.  She loves them, and it only fuels her little gag.  This year the joke ended up being on us, as she’s sure that our gift is a cellphone:

Over all?  I’d say it was a successful party for someone who means the world to us.  🙂

Happy Birthday Marie!!!!

You make me crazy.  😉

Lily and Marie

I initially planned on sharing a couple stories today…  the girlie had her pre-k graduation ceremony today (no, she won’t be in kindergarten next year, she’ll be in pre-k again – so next year this time we’ll have another pre-k graduation).  She had a playdate too.  I also considered sharing the little tale I shared on FB, which I suppose I still can because it’s short (though I considered telling the elongated version).  But instead I’ll share something else, but only after the story I shared on FB.  LOL

Today, the girlie said to me that she was going to pretend to be a lichen.  But she went on to clarify: “a lichen that grows on trees mom, not the people who turn into werewolves”.  I thought it was pretty cute.  And if nothing else, I think we can safely say that we’ve provided her with a well rounded education thus far.  🙂

So…  early in the evening, I dropped the wee girlie and my husband off at my parents place before heading to a photo shoot.  My parents were heading out and asked if we could watch everyone.  Well, when I came back after my shoot and was making myself a grilled cheese sandwich the girlie came running into the kitchen and asked me to get my camera to take a picture of her and her Auntie Marie (my sister and Lily-Ann Marie’s namesake).

Firstly, Lily-Ann never asks me to get my camera to take a picture of her.  She’s sick of me taking pictures of her.  I have to barter to get pictures of her these days.

Second, Lily and Marie are often not even on talking terms.  They love one another, but they each have a problem with one another too.  With the girlie, it’s the green eyed monster.  Marie gets my attention (or my moms) and the girlie doesn’t want to share it.  With Marie, the problem is that the girlie is three…  and three is chaos.

So, for Lily-Ann to come running into the kitchen asking me to take a photo of the two of them together?  That’s big.  She further elaborated (when I took too long at the hot stove) “Mom, Marie is outside.  I asked her and she said yes.  Go get your camera, I need you to take a picture of us.”  What else could I do?  I turned off the stove and got my camera.  But asking me to take ONE picture?  Nuh uh.

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The Erman Family – photography preview

Charmaine contacted me hoping to combine a graduation shoot and a family photography session, and when she told me a little more about her family, I was only too happy to oblige.  Her eldest, like me, has a very special bond with one of her younger siblings.  So it was truly a pleasure for me to be able to capture all that they share, never to be forgotten, never to fade with memory.  Families like the Erman’s are the whole reason I do family photography.  So thank you Charmaine, for inviting me into your lives and allowing me to be a part of your very special family – even just for an afternoon.

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